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Medical Errors and Patient Safety

Punitive Measures And Sanctions

  • •  Authority for Punitive Measures against Health Professionals
  • •  Authority for Punitive Measures against Facilities

    Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., the Commissioner of the New York State Health Department, identified the under-reporting as a significant problem in a February 13, 2001 directive to Hospital administrators, stating:

    “The Department does want to work cooperatively with hospitals. However, we cannot tolerate continued under-reporting. The Department will impose sanctions and fines against any hospital that is not complying with the NYPORTS reporting requirements. In addition, as we view the identification of adverse events as a key component of a hospital's quality improvement process, as well as the overall operation of the hospital, NYPORTS' compliance will be considered in relation to other hospital matters that come before the Department.”

    The Commissioner, in a separate press release following the release of the Annual Report 1999 in 2001, used even stronger warnings, stating:

    “For those hospitals that have ignored these critical reporting requirements, we will identify you, single you out and sanction you in a public forum.” [Health Affairs, p. 287, May/June 2001]

    This rhetoric emphasizes, especially relative to other states, that New York is a state that is dedicated to addressing the problem of medical errors/adverse events with the full might of regulation and the threat of licensure sanctions that a regulatory authority provides.

  • •  Penalty for Late Filing of Report

    In a September 28, 2004 press release acknowledging an audit of NYPORTS by Comptroller Alan G. Helvesi [PDF], the DOH indicated that

    "A hospital or clinic that fails to comply with reporting requirements can be fined as much as $2,000 per violation. DOH also issues citations for noncompliance, which do not carry a fine but require facilities to submit a written corrective action plan. However, auditors determined that DOH did not have formal criteria to determine when hospitals and clinics should be fined or cited for failure to report incidents, and that different DOH field offices around the State responded differently to reporting violations. Auditors found that, during the 29-month period covered in the audit, only two facilities were fined and only 20 citations were issued."

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